I’m living an intentional life in many ways. Here’s just one…
When my grandparents were still alive, we would make the three hour drive to their farm every holiday season. At least for Thanksgiving or Christmas, sometimes both. We went out in the summer too. And it wasn’t just my family. It was my aunts and uncles and cousins too. Multiple times a year we made a pilgrimage to their farm. I loved spending time with my grandparents.
Since they’ve died, I’ve only been back to the farm a handful of times. We no longer go there for the holidays. We no longer take over every bed and pull out couch and bathroom in their little farm house. The pilgrimages to the farm are over. My aunts and uncles are now the grandparents. Now they host the holidays, or travel to their children’s homes to spend time with the grandchildren. The focus has changed.
I thought about this last night as I pondered our future. What will happen when our parents are gone? What will happen when our siblings become grandparents? Where will we fit in the family picture?
Infertility is an ongoing issue…
First, I hate, hate, HATE thinking about our parents dying. Second, it seems strange to think about our siblings as grandparents when the oldest nephew is in second grade. I agree, I’m jumping a little too far ahead.
However, this is a reality for those of us without children. Infertility doesn’t just impact us during our childbearing years… the impact continues for the rest of our lives. I think I’ll always be wondering, where do I fit now?
I will never have my own family line to gather in my house around the holidays. I will never have grown children bringing our grandchildren over for sleepovers. I will never have those experiences. That makes me sad. So, I let myself feel sad about that.
I can feel sad about that whenever I want because it’s sad. It’s not the future I expected or wanted.
And, I don’t want to be sad for the rest of my life, so I have to find ways to balance the sad feelings with some other, more joyful ones. This requires a lot of intention. I have to keep living an intentional life.
So, I work at it…
I intentionally build relationships with my siblings — blood related and in-laws. I want our relationships to go beyond the connection with our parents. So, this means spending time with them outside the traditional family gatherings. This means supporting one another. This means we become friends, not just siblings.
I intentionally build relationships with my nieces and nephews. I write about this a lot, so I don’t need to expand on this too much. But, I want our relationships to be separate from the ones I have with their parents. I want the aunt-niece/nephew relationship to be as important for them as it is for me.
I intentionally open our home to our siblings and their children. I want our home to feel welcoming and safe. On Wednesday we ate lunch and watched TV and played games with our 4-year-old niece and nephew. On Thanksgiving we will host my family for a meal in our home. These are intentional choices. We may not be parents or grandparents, but we can make our home a place where family want to gather.
Parents don’t necessarily have to think about these things because, assuming it’s a loving home to begin with, they know their children will continue to come back to home base after they’ve moved away. Our situation is different, so we have to be more intentional about how we want our home to be perceived.
This also means I need to get better at cooking because my mom will be hard to top… 😉
Living a good, full life in the midst of infertility requires being intentional. I know what I want my future to look like with our siblings and their children, which means taking steps today that will make that future possible.